Tuesday, December 6, 2011
I was very lucky this fall to be a part of the Bloomberg Markets 50 most influential issue...it's always great to be a part of a best of package in a magazine...everyone from art directors, editors, writers, photographers, try to raise their game past the top for special issues like this..when i got the call from Amy, I jumped right on board and was very excited to hear who I would be photographing. I've shot a ton of business peeps at this point, sometimes its a great experience, sometimes its not. When its not, its usually not because the subject is difficult or mean, its really because it can be so hard to take an interesting, original picture at an office complex..I can tell you how many times i've sighed when the PR person leads me to a conference room and says "this is where you will be photographing Mr. _________ today." But, i get it, they are busy, not much time, etc.. so I always make a great go of it and more times than not hit a home run, even in a conference room...for these guys in this special issue though, we had a little lead time and I had some ideas. The first one was Martin Feldstein, an economist up at harvard in Cambridge. His assistant was very "you can come do it at his office", but I really pushed with the magazine and with him to do something a bit more iconic and interesting. I had shot in cambridge a couple of times before, and while i had never shot on the pedestrian Weeks Bridge, I had always wanted to. I had seen the bridge and kinda just bookmarked it a few years earlier as a photoshoot location wish. Plus the idea for the portrait of him was to photograph him in an academic environment, as thats what he was, up at harvard, and i knew the bridge was so iconic cambridge, and the background would be super clean and great for a full page. Permits were put in place. location scouted. we showed up for the shoot and crossed our fingers the rain that was forecast would hold off for a bit. When Johnny and I got to location, and got our gear all up on the bridge, I had one of my several panic attacks that day, when i realized the bridge railing was SO high, it would dwarf him if he stood against it with his head barely going above the rail. So i decided that he needed to sit on the railing, even though it was up high over the charles river, and he was a pretty old guy. This goes into the "dont ask, but tell the subject to do something." I didnt really give him a choice. when he showed up, pleasantries were exchanged, then i directed him over to the railing, where i had a couple of photo cases for him to stand up on, and i helped him get up on the bridge. He did it, but only because i told, not asked. Lesson #1 today, keep as much control of the situation and decisions as you can. Act like you've done it 1,000 times before..........................................................
My second subject for the issue was Ray Dalio, hedge fund billionaire. His people were much more controlling of location "you will do it at corporate and we will have a room set for you." Ok, got it. so we decided to bring a backdrop and shoot him in a studio setting as we didtn know what we would be getting when we got there. So we showed up super early, loaded in all the gear, set up the backdrop, lit it, and were waiting. I always have a calm nervousness on set and am always looking for photos, so I stepped outside of the room we were in, walked outside, and fell in love with this location by a little pond. Now Ray is scheduled to show in 10 minutes, but i love the location and really want to try an optoin with Ray here too. And the publicist has already told me Ray is always on time or early and wont give me much time. The location was literally a 30 second walk from our room though and i knew i could pull it off. I went inside, told the publicist my plan, again didnt really give him a choice, and had my assistants grab one light each and walk them out with me to this location. Super quick meter reading, test shots, etc. weather getting sketchy, Ray shows up..We chat, shoot outside for 5 minutes, then rush inside with my assistants dragging lights with us. Reset the studio shot, and shoot him there for 15 minutes...both setups looked great. Lesson #2, NEVER be afraid to change last minute, and never stop looking..
Posted by nathaniel at 6:50 AM